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O-Zone: Cool times

JACKSONVILLE – Let’s get to it …

James from Salt Lake City via Jagsonville

Do you think Dede needs to keep doing his dance when we’re losing? Seems like a "Hey-look-at-me-we-suck-but-I'm-still-special" kinda thing. Save it for when your team is winning.

While I dislike most things – and while I’m known among my few peers as one of life’s great criticizers – when players celebrate isn’t high on my list of concerns. I don’t think Jaguars wide receiver Dede Westbrook or any other player needs to celebrate after touchdowns, but it doesn’t bother me when they do. His celebration in London certainly didn’t bother me as it pulled the Jaguars to within one score in the third quarter, so the outcome in no way was decided. Celebrating in that situation made sense because players felt as if they were coming back. If a player celebrates, say, in the final minute with the game definitely out of reach I prefer them to tone it down a bit. Otherwise … celebrate or don’t. Either way is OK.

Nate from St. Petersburg, FL

John, it's easy to see why Jaguars wide receiver Keelan Cole is struggling. He excelled last season because he ran a bunch of fly and post routes and caught the ball in space. It seems this season they have him playing in traffic a ton more, which clearly isn't his specialty and it's killing drives (dropped passes/fumbles). Your thoughts?

Good eye.

Ryan from Dearborn, MI

John - by my calculations, the Jaguars had just over $52 million not suiting up on Sunday due to injury between the active roster and those on injured reserve. That's a full 25 percent of the salary cap. It's like trying to win a fight with one hand tied behind your back. I know injuries are a part of the NFL, but at what point do we start questioning the strength-and-conditioning staff? Something's got to give.

The NFL is a violent, physical game. Injuries happen. The Jaguars were fortunate with injuries for the most part last season. They have been unfortunate this season. You can question the strength-and-conditioning staff all you want, but the job is “strengthen and condition” – not injury prevention. No one can “prevent” the injuries the Jaguars have sustained this season. It’s simply not how it works.

Nick from Palatka, FL

My, how perspective changes. When the Jags were … well, the Jags ... I would really enjoy watching them win their three or five games a year and the losses were ... meh. Now, it's getting to the point that I would rather go to a craft show with my mother-in-law than watch a game. The O-Zone, on the other hand, has been a continual source of deliciously mordant entertainment throughout this miasmatic mess of mediocrity and I'm confident this consistent awesomeness will continue (barring injury, of course).

This isn’t all that surprising. I thrive in mediocrity, after all. It’s where I’m at my best – or at least, my mediocre-est.

Mike from Atlanta, GA

"One of the best things about this job is seeing on a daily basis how frustrated people get when people don’t do things they want." My guess is that these people never married. I think being married is being pleasantly surprised when someone does something that you want them to do.

This.

Evan from Section 38

In the last five years, have the Jaguars had any come-from-behind victories? If so, have any of them been late in the game? The Los Angeles Chargers game last season is the only exception I’m aware of. Finally, can you really have a Super Bowl-contending team that can’t stage a fourth-quarter comeback – and isn’t that usually why teams need at least that ability from their quarterback?

Yes, teams need their quarterback to be able to lead come-from-behind victories. Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles has done this on occasion – the Buffalo victory in London in 2015 comes to mind – but hasn’t happened enough. Either way, the Jaguars are 3-5. I don’t know that we can call them a “Super Bowl-contending team” right now.

Big on Blake from Philly

Mister E, Johnny O, if the Jags win out the rest of their division games and steal at least two other wins from either the Bills, Dolphins, Redskins or Steelers, do you think a nine-win team could win the AFC South in 2018?

Yes.

Jud from Jacksonville

What do you see for Fournette since he’s been out way too many games? Is it possible that he’s too fragile to help the Jaguars? T.J. Yeldon seems to be doing a good job, but he needs relief from Fournette.

I have no idea what to expect from running back Leonard Fournette when he returns. I’m not big on calling NFL players fragile, because I respect the toughness of anyone who plays and excels in such a violent, physical game. I also think Fournette did a nice job toughing through an ankle/leg issue late last season, so he clearly can help the Jaguars while playing through injury/pain. I don’t know how to predict this hamstring issue. It would seem possible Fournette could return after the bye, but this injury has been brutally unpredictable.

Otto from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL

John, with the team's recent struggles I find it somewhat odd that we have heard nothing from either Senior Vice President of Football Operations Tom Coughlin or General Manager Dave Caldwell. They are the architects of the current team makeup. All teams have injuries. It seems we neglected to make moves in the offseason to help bolster the Jags if injuries occurred. No running back help. No quarterback competition. Being thin at linebacker.

Neither Caldwell nor Caldwell typically have spoken publicly during the season since Coughlin returned in January 2017. That was true last season as well as this season.

Hank from Toms River, NJ

Mr. Zone: The absence of nickel cornerback D.J. Hayden seems to have changed the secondary for the worse. I thought he was playing pretty well in the beginning of the season. Hope he gets back soon.

Hayden played well when healthy in the first two games of the season. He appeared to be improving entering the bye.

Genuinejag13

Mr O, the head coach has said he is not confident the team can run the ball, so I am guessing the best chance to win is to let an inaccurate and inconsistent quarterback throwing receivers who lead the league in drops.

Jaguars Head Coach Doug Marrone said after a loss to Philadelphia Sunday that there was more confidence in that game in working matchups to wide receivers as opposed to running. His comments were not meant to say there was no confidence in the running game, period. Considering the Jaguars had 246 yards offense and three trips into the red zone in the second half as opposed to 89 yards and no red-zone trips in the first half – yes, you’re perhaps correct that Marrone and offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett were right to emphasize Bortles throwing to wide receivers in that game. I don’t know that that’s the best route for the Jaguars for the long-term. At some point, the Jaguars need to get back to running. It’s their identity. Perhaps the bye week is the time they will return to it.

James from Upper Marlboro, MD

Forget 3-5 because that has already happened. We just need to win the next one.

Yes.

Sean from Jacksonville

Short question, but might not be a simple answer. How do you tell when the coach (overall, line, defense, wide, etc..) sucks versus the player(s) suck? What is that fine line?

It’s not a simple answer – and it’s not a short one. The truth is it’s almost always a combination of things in football, because it’s the ultimate team sport. I’ve come to believe that the ultimate line for a coach is when a team or position group is no longer listening. It’s tough to come back from that. And no, I don’t think the Jaguars are there yet with this team.

Michael from Jacksonville

Johnny O, is it okay to be understanding of the offense's shortcomings but still realize that the quarterback position needs an upgrade?

Sure, the quarterback position could be better. It also could be worse. The Jaguars last offseason decided that assets could be better spent somewhere else considering the quarterbacks available. Will they be in a better position to get a player at the position? Perhaps.

Jacob from New York, NY

At least we had one good year in 10 years. Do you think we can get one more in the next ten?

Absolutely. Why wouldn’t they? There is good, young talent on this team. The Jaguars are having a lousy stretch this season largely because of injuries. But this is not a team threadbare on talent.

Big on Blake from Philly

Remember when I was talking about AFC playoff seeding after the Week 2 win over New England? Those were better times.

That was cool. I liked it.

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